Today's task, most supported by passage, requires an examinee to combine explicit information in the passage, often highlighted in the question stem, and choose a factual statement or conclusion that can be drawn from them. It is analogous to the most strongly supported by [stimulus] logical reasoning task, and similarly benefits from cleanly prestating the topic's actors, relationships, and degrees of certainty for each.
|This NASA video is full of many layers of nested extrapolations. Based on what we know, how would our solar system look from another system, from millions of years ago, and can scientists find planets using this technique?|
The question stems for most supported by passage questions are often difficult to spot, as they are easily conflated with passage or author implies. At its base, the difference between the two tasks is between extrapolating facts and identifying opinion; today we're working on making a clean logical inference from explicit scientific evidence, which is why the sample question we'll be using from LSAC's website is classified as a most supported by passage and is not an opinion standard.
Some examples of most supported by passage question stems from modern LSATs:
Based on the passage, which one of the following is most likely to be true of any [category] used to replace [subcategory] in the process mentioned in the first paragraph?
Which one of the following is most strongly implied by
It can be inferred from the passage that if the [actor] mentioned in lines 46–47 were eliminated . . . which one of the following would be the most likely to occur?
The passage most strongly suggests which one of the following about the use of [subject]?We'll be using the same passage we introduced in the passage or author says explanation, a comparative passage where two authors in the 1990s discuss anthropomorphic climate change.
In January 1995 a vast section of ice broke off the
Larsen ice shelf in Antarctica. While this occurrence,
the direct result of a regional warming trend that began
in the 1940s, may be the most spectacular
(5) manifestation yet of serious climate changes
occurring on the planet as a consequence of
atmospheric heating, other symptoms—more intense
storms, prolonged droughts, extended heat waves, and
record flooding—have been emerging around the
(10) world for several years.
According to scientific estimates, furthermore,
sea-level rise resulting from global warming will
reach 3 feet (1 meter) within the next century. Such a
rise could submerge vast coastal areas, with
(15) potentially irreversible consequences.
Late in 1995 the Intergovernmental Panel onThis passage introduces the topic of global warming and the IPCC's findings that humans are contributing to the phenomenon. From these findings, the author jumps to their clearly stated opinion on the topic (pink highlights), which conclude the final paragraph.
Climate Change (IPCC) reported that it had detected
the “fingerprint“ of human activity as a contributor to
the warming of the earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore,
(20) panel scientists attributed such warming directly to
the increasing quantities of carbon dioxide released
by our burning of fossil fuels. The IPCC report thus
clearly identifies a pattern of climatic response to
human activities in the climatological record, thereby
(25) establishing without doubt that global warming can
no longer be attributed solely to natural climate
Passage BThis second passage clearly tries to downplay the evidence introduced in Passage A, as well as present several countervailing factors and natural examples that outweigh humanity's impact on global warming. The signposts for each point of view (pink), the examples and counterexamples each author uses (blues and cyans, respectively), as well as the more structural elements (green and red), will help us find and reference back for any passage or author says questions.
Over the past two decades, an extreme view of
global warming has developed. While it contains
(30) some facts, this view also contains exaggerations and
misstatements, and has sometimes resulted in
unreasonable environmental policies.
According to this view, global warming will cause the
polar ice to melt, raising global sea levels,
(35) flooding entire regions, destroying crops, and
displacing millions of people. However, there is still a
great deal of uncertainty regarding a potential rise in
sea levels. Certainly, if the earth warms, sea levels
will rise as the water heats up and expands. If the
(40) polar ice caps melt, more water will be added to the
oceans, raising sea levels even further. There is some
evidence that melting has occurred; however, there is
also evidence that the Antarctic ice sheets are
growing. In fact, it is possible that a warmer sea-
(45) surface temperature will cause more water to
evaporate, and when wind carries the moisture-laden
air over the land, it will precipitate out as snow,
causing the ice sheets to grow. Certainly, we need to
have better knowledge about the hydrological cycle
(50) before predicting dire consequences as a result of
recent increases in global temperatures.
This view also exaggerates the impact that human
activity has on the planet. While human activity may
be a factor in global warming, natural events appear
(55) to be far more important. The 1991 eruption of Mount
Pinatubo in the Philippines, for example, caused a
decrease in the average global temperature, while El
Niño, a periodic perturbation in the ocean’s
temperature and circulation, causes extreme global
(60) climatic events, including droughts and major
flooding. Of even greater importance to the earth’s
climate are variations in the sun’s radiation and in the
earth’s orbit. Climate variability has always existed and
will continue to do so, regardless of human
The author of passage B would be most likely to make whichThis question stem is one of the most complicated for this task, as it exemplifies the difficulty of classifying the task as either identifying Passage B author's opinion on Passage A or extrapolating from the evidence that the author includes in Passage B's argument. Ultimately, though, you'll still want to pay attention to the actors, relationships, and degrees of certainty for either task. If an answer choice correctly maps on to the relevant portion(s) of the passage, then it will be correct.
one of the following criticisms about the predictions cited in
passage A concerning a rise in sea level?
In this case, the author of Passage B clearly thinks that the anthropomorphic global warming opinion in Passage A is "exaggerated" and based on evidence that we don't fully understand and that is, in the author's opinion, outweighed by other, naturalistic, causes. Ideally, you would have already answered a main idea or primary purpose question prior to reaching today's question, as reframing to that prephrase would make comparing the answer choices much easier.
(A) These predictions incorrectly posit a causalAnswer choice D is a factual statement that is supported by lines 48-52, and not an opinion, because it merely points out that scientists do not currently fully understand how the hydrological cycle will react to the admittedly observed global warming phenomenon. "Rely" does not convey the evaluative element necessary to convey the author's opinion, as it points out a gap in scientists' current abilities to properly extrapolate from the underlying evidence. This answer choice fits nicely in with our prephrase of Passage B's actors, relationships, and degrees of certainty: we shouldn't make predictions of global ruin until we better understand the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon.
the warming of the earth
rising sea levels.
(B) These predictions are supported
evidence that some melting of the polar ice caps
(C) These predictions exaggerate the degree to which
global temperatures have increasedin recent
(D) These predictions rely on an inadequate
understanding of the hydrological cycle.
(E) These predictions assume a
global temperatures that may not occur.
Answer choice A ignores lines 38-39, where the author admits that warming has some relationship to sea levels; stating that the relationship is more complicated than it is treated in Passage A is not denying causality.
Answer choice B inappropriately limits the author to criticizing Passage A on the evidence of melting ice caps. Line 30 uses plural "facts," and the rest of the argument focuses on rising sea levels, of which polar ice caps are only a piece.
Answer choice C imputes information for Passage B's author that neither passage discusses: we only know that temperatures have risen, not by how much.
Answer choice E similarly would require evidence that neither passage presents. Although both passages discuss future effects of global warming, neither rely on a continuing increase.